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General Insurance: Best general insurance policy in India

General Insurance helps protect ourselves & the things that we value the most. Check out the types of general insurance & the top companies offering general insurance policy in India.

September 12, 2019 / 08:08 AM IST

You may have a life insurance policy protecting your family against any specified event. This insurance covers the risk of life and pays out specified sums to your family in the unfortunate case of your death.

Similarly you can also protect your tangible assets against damages and accidents with special insurance contracts known as general insurance. All non-life insurance policies, including motor, health, home and commercial insurance, are called general insurance.

General insurance includes protection against fire, theft and burglary of your assets such as home, office or car. General insurance also covers health and travel. You can insure anything that you value with general insurance products. This would provide financial protection from a fire, storm flood, earthquake, accidents, theft and burglary among other things.

Life insurance policies usually have a tenure lasting a lifetime. On the other hand, general insurances are available for a certain tenure after which they have to be renewed.

Both private and public sector companies offer general insurance products. These general insurance companies are regulated by the Insurance Regulatory and development Authority of India (IRDAI). According to IRDAI, there are 34 insurance agencies that offer non-life insurance policies. All 34 agencies offer around 800 products for general insurance.

The government is currently planning to merge all state-owned insurers into one agency for the general insurance sector. This would mean that the state will have a single agency offering non-life insurances, much like the Life Insurance Company, (LIC), for the life insurance policies.


Types of General Insurance

All non-life insurances fall under the category of general insurance. There are various types of general insurance products available in India. Some of the most common types of general insurance include motor insurance, health insurance, home insurance, travel insurance, marine insurance and commercial insurance, among others. You can also insure your crop and agricultural yield as part of a general insurance. The rural insurance covers livestock, agricultural pumps, and even silkworms and bees. Liability insurance, a type of general insurance, covers the insured person from the expenses spent on the legal actions. You can protect anything of value against potential risks and keeps your interests safe.


Motor Insurance

Motor insurance protects the insured person against damages to their vehicle caused from an accident. It also covers expenses for treatment of any third party who was injured in the accident. Broadly, there are two types of motor insurance policies—third party and comprehensive. The third-party policy protects any third parties affected by the accident and is mandated by the government. A comprehensive policy protects the third-party, damages to the vehicle as well as those present in the car at the time of the accident.

Most motor insurances are cashless and make it convenient for the insured. It may also include personal accident cover for the driver and other members present in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Some agencies also offer roadside assistance and towing facilities.

Motor Insurances can be of three categories:


Car Insurance

If you own a car, you must get an insurance for it. The insurance will protect you against expenses in case of an accident. It pays for repairs of the car, medical expenses of the driver or any third party. This also protects your car against any natural disasters such as floods, earthquake and burglary. You can opt for a simple third party insurance or go for a comprehensive cover.


Two-wheeler Insurance

Two-wheeler insurances, as the name suggests, are meant to protect two-wheelers. This insurance is meant for both geared and non-geared two-wheelers. Much like car insurance, this insurance will protect your two-wheeler against expenses in case of an accident. It pays for repairs of the two-wheeler, medical expenses of the driver or any third party injured in the accident. This also protects your car against any natural disasters such as floods, earthquake and burglary. Here, too, you can opt for a comprehensive cover or third-party cover.


Commercial vehicle Insurance

All commercial vehicles such as autorickshaws, tempos, buses, trucks minivans or minibuses can also be insured under the motor insurance policies. Your vehicle will protected against expenses in case of an accident including repairs and medical expenses for treatment of injured parties. You can choose a simple third-party cover or a comprehensive cover with add-ons.


Health Insurance

Medical expenses are unavoidable in this day and age, given the unhealthy lifestyle and lowering life expectancy. With expenses skyrocketing, one needs to be prepared for a medical emergency.

A health insurance covers the medical and surgical expenses for the insured person. Unlike the life insurance, which is an assurance covering the risk of life, a health insurance pays for your medical and surgical bills. The cover in the health insurance is up to the amount specified at the time of purchase of the insurance. It could be cashless where you need not pay anything to the hospital and the insurance agency settles the bill with the hospital or clinic. Alternatively, you can pay the hospital and claim the funds from the insurance agency later.

You can opt for a policy for your own self or even opt for a ,plan that covers your family members. You can go for a comprehensive policy that offers add-ons such as room rent waiver, maternity cover, critical illness cover, hospital cash, personal accident rider. A health insurance policy is generally valid for a year and has to be renewed at the end of the year. You can change your policy at the end of the year if you are not happy with the existing one.

Many insurance agencies, both private and public are now offering policies customised for specific diseases and ailments such as diabetes and cancer. There are several kinds of health insurances such as individual policies, family policies, senior citizen policies, critical illness plans, maternity health insurance, preventive healthcare and personal accident covers.

Additionally, those who opt for health insurance also enjoy tax benefits. Premium paid towards health insurance is eligible for tax deductions under section 80 D of the Income Tax Act, 1961.


Travel Insurance

Many of us spot this insurance while booking our tickets and choose to untick this box to reduce our expenses. Rarely do we pause to check the benefits of a travel insurance but it is time we do.

A travel insurance protects you against any unexpected travel accidents, takes care of your medical expenditures in case of accidents, takes care of your baggage loss or delayed arrival of luggage at the airport. This insurance also protects you against the loss of your passport and other documents. Losses incurred owing to delay in flights are also covered.

The travel insurance is an essential tool for those who travel frequently. It provides cover against any last minute detour of your trip or delay in traveling from one place to another. The policy will take care of transportation in the same city arising due to the delay, expenses for hotel accommodation, switching flights due to cancellations and curtailments.

Travel policies also offer cover for legal liabilities and other legal expenses, apart from the medical and accommodation. You can also find insurers that cover home burglary while you are away.

An insurance policy is especially important if you are travelling abroad. The policy will take care of your medical emergencies such as ambulance charges, hospitalisation etc and you do not have to worry about currency exchanges. In some cases, the policy also compensates you for losses and interruptions if you cancel your trip or prepone your return.

There are various types of travel insurance such as individual travel insurance, family or group insurance, student insurance, senior citizen insurance, medical travel insurance, international travel insurance, domestic travel insurance etc.


Home Insurance

Let us assume you have spent all your life savings to purchase your dream home. Over the years you have collected fancy appliances, artefacts, paintings and furniture. You home is the most valuable asset for you. Therefore insurance agencies offer you a product to insure your most valuable asset.

The basic home insurance policy protects the structure and contents of your home. It provides coverage against any financial liabilities arising from the damage/loss of your home and/or its contents due to natural or man-made reasons. In such cases, the insurance agency will issue regular home insurance pay outs with which you can rehabilitate your family and start repairing your house.

Home insurances also offer additional covers against burglary and theft or earthquake. While most home insurance policies are annual contracts, some also provide a tenure of five years. There are three kinds of covers that a home insurance policy offers.

Fire and Peril: Any damage to your house or property due to a fire, explosion, aircraft damage, lightning, earthquake, missile testing operations, will be compensated by the insurance agency.

Natural calamities: The insurance agency will take care of any damages to your house and property caused by flood, hurricane, storm, landslide and rockslide and cyclone among other calamities.

Manmade calamities: The insurance agency protects your house and property against damages dues to a riot or a strike. It will also cover your damages from theft or burglary.


Marine Insurance

Marine insurance is also known as cargo insurance. Commercial transactions via ships are subject to risks because of bad weather, attacks by sea pirates, collision, and accidents, among other things. It is to protect the ship and the cargo against these risks that a marine insurance is bought. These insurances are available for ship, boat and yacht owners.

Marine insurance not only covers the ship but also the cargo inside. There are three types of marine insurances—cargo insurance, freight insurance and hull insurance.

According to law, marine insurance is a mandatory requirement for all ship, boat and yacht owners who are using their vessels for commercial or transportation purposes. Marine insurance provides all-round coverage against a variety of risks faced while at sea. Since insurance agencies offer claim survey at any part of the world, you can claim your insurance from anywhere.

A marine insurance provides protection to your finances and assets while the vessel is at sea transporting cargo or personnel across. However, this does not include coverage for any routine wear and tear or ordinary leakage in the vessel. The insurance also doesn’t protect the vessel owner against damages caused due to delay in transportation.

Similarly any damage caused wilfully or intentionally by the owner is also not covered. Some insurance agencies offer coverage of damage caused due to civil commotion, strikes, war, riot, etc. The insurance, however, doesn’t cover any damage or loss occurring due to bankruptcy or financial default of the owner of the transport vessel.

Commercial Insurance

Commercial insurance is an insurance product that is available to business owners or those involved in commercial activities as well to people in the industrial sector. It provides a safety net to businesspersons and acts as a protection to operations and assets against any damages.

There are various kinds of commercial insurance. For instance, property insurance a common commercial insurance where the insurance agency covers damages to the commercial properties of the insured. These damages could be caused due to a fire or any other hazard.

Similar commercial insurance is available to shopkeepers as well. It covers damages to the shop building, premises, theft of items, bicycles and signboards. This policy also provides cover to the person if there is any injury due to housebreaking or theft.

Another common commercial insurance is the liability insurance which provides cover against legal liabilities. This is available to large enterprises that want to offset business liability risks in diverse locations globally.

Yet another example of a commercial insurance is aviation liability in which the insurance company covers for all types of aircraft against disappearance or , loss. It is applicable for small aircrafts as well as private jets. The insurer also covers damages to equipment, tools or supplies of the company, apart from dangers arising out of war and other acts of aggressions. In most of these policies, crew members are also covered.

The bankers’ indemnity insurance policy is also a kind of commercial policy in which all branches of a particular bank in the country are covered. The insurance provides cover against loss of cash or securities in any of the banks, in transit, forgery, dishonesty, hypothecated goods, registered postal losses and appraisers, among others.

Other examples of commercial insurance are engineering insurance, energy insurance, employee benefit insurance, international insurance and automobile insurance.


List of General Insurance Companies in India

According to IRDAI, there are 34 insurance agencies that offer non-life insurance policies. All together these 34 agencies offer around 800 products for general insurance. Here is a list of insurance agencies offering general insurance products:

Private sector agencies:

  1. Acko General Insurance

  2. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance

  3. Bharti AXA General Insurance

  4. Cholamandalam MS General Insurance

  5. DHFL General Insurance

  6. Edelweiss General Insurance

  7. Future Generali General Insurance

  8. HDFC Ergo General Insurance

  9. Go Digit General Insurance

  10. ICICI Lombard General Insurance

  11. Iffco Tokio General Insurance

  12. Kotak Mahindra General Insurance

  13. Liberty General Insurance

  14. Magma HDI General Insurance

  15. Raheja QBE General Insurance

  16. Reliance General Insurance

  17. Reliance Health Insurance

  18. Royal Sundaram General Insurance

  19. SBI General Insurance

  20. Shriram General Insurance

  21. TATA AIG General Insurance

  22. Universal Sompo General Insurance

Public sector insurance agencies:

  1. National Insurance

  2. New India Assurance

  3. Oriental Insurance

  4. United India Insurance

Standalone agencies:

  1. Aditya Birla Health Insurance

  2. Apollo Munich Health Insurance

  3. ManipalCigna Health Insurance

  4. Max Bupa Health Insurance

  5. Religare Health Insurance

  6. Star Health Insurance

Other agencies:

  1. ECGC Ltd.

  2. General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC)

Claim Process of General Insurance

The process for making claims for general insurance is different for different kinds of insurances. For example, the claim process for motor insurance may vary from that of health insurance.

But don’t worry, we will tell you all about the claim process for the most common types of general insurance.


Motor Insurance

There are two ways in which a claim for motor insurance works. You can either opt for a cashless transaction or the reimbursement method. In case of cashless transactions, the insurance agency clears the dues with the garage directly and the vehicle owner does not have to pay anything. In case of reimbursement, you can first pay for the repairs and then claim the amount from the insurance agency.

If you own a vehicle and have been in an accident, do not panic if you have an insurance. The first step is to inform the insurance agency of the accident. You can do so by calling the toll-free assistance number. The next step is to file an FIR about the accident. Do not move your vehicle from the accident spot and take lots of pictures of any damages and injuries.

The insurance agency will send a surveyor to check the damages to the vehicle. The surveyor will take the vehicle to one of the network garages approved by the insurance agency, if you have chosen for a cashless service. You need to submit the required documents to the surveyor. The insurance company will confirm the liability and settle your bills with the garage directly. If you have opted for a reimbursement scheme, after the surveyor checks the damages, you can take it to the nearest garage and start repair work. Keep the bills for all repair works. You have to pay for the repair charges and then submit the bills with a claim form to the surveyor/company for settlement.


Health Insurance

Here, too, there are two ways to make claim—on a cashless basis and on a reimbursement basis. In case of cashless policy, you need to visit one of the network hospitals that have a tie up with the insurance agency. You need to ask for preauthorisation to avail of the treatment. In you have opted for claims on reimbursement basis, the insurance company has to be informed of your hospitalisation as per their prescribed procedures. You have to produce documents such as the claim form, discharge summary, prescriptions and bills while applying for a claim.

In case of preauthorisation and cashless claims, you can fill out the preauthorisation form available at the hospital's insurance or TPA Desk. You can email or fax this form to your insurance agency. The claim management team will approve your claim and send letter, also via email to authorise the policy. The claim management team will send an inquiry to the hospital before approving authorisation. If the team rejects the authorisation, proceed with the treatment and claim for reimbursement later.


Travel Insurance 

You must register your claim within 24 hours of occurrence of the incident. You can call the toll-free assistance number of the insurance agency. Fill up the claim form properly, attach the discharge reports if any, original bills for all expenses, copy of visa entry and exit stamps and a cancelled cheque. Submit the claim form and wait for the agency to approve the claim.


What is the difference between life insurance and health insurance?

Life insurance and health insurance are two different insurance products. Life insurance protects the policy holder against risk of life. Health insurance takes care of expenses incurred due to treatment and surgery.

In case of a life insurance, the insurance company pays a certain sum to the family or the nominee of the policyholder upon the death of the policyholder. If the term of the policy expires and the policyholder is alive, he or she will receive a specific sum is paid to the policyholder.

In life insurance there are both survival and death benefits to the policyholder or nominee. On the other hand, a health insurance provides funds for treatment or surgery after an illness or an accident.

In case of a life insurance, the premium can be paid either in lump sum or in periodic intervals. But in case of health insurance, the premium is paid in lump sum for the whole term. Moreover, life insurance is a long-term policy and health insurance is more short-term (usually for three to five years).

In case of life insurance a fixed amount is paid to the nominee or the policyholder at the time of the death of the insured or upon maturity of the policy. But in health insurance, there is no money that is paid if the policy expires.

Why should I take a travel insurance

Many of us feel that travel insurance is unnecessary and adds to the expenses of the travel. However, look carefully to understand why a travel insurance important, especially if you are travelling abroad.

While travelling within the country or abroad, you are prone risks such as accidents, thefts, loss of tickets and loss of luggage. We are also at a risk of losing our baggage, important documents or even a cancellation of your trip for various reasons. A travel insurance can provide a safety net against these risks. In fact if there is a delay in flight—which so very often happens—and you are forced to travel within the city and find accommodation, it is reassuring to be insured against these extra expenses.

A travel insurance also covers in-patient treatment in a local hospital, out-patient treatment, provided if it is critical, medical aid for broken limbs or injuries if prescribed by physician as well as pathological and diagnostic tests like X-ray, diagnostic tests, etc. Dental care and anaesthetic treatment after an accident are also covered. Transportation and emergency medical evacuation, too, are covered.

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first published: Sep 12, 2019 08:08 am